The vitriol and intolerance around Margaret Court’s comments about Gay Marriage is growing. I don’t mean Court’s comments or intolerance. I mean the abuse and intolerance being thrown at her.
Let me be abundantly clear. I do not agree with Margaret Court’s stance on Gay Marriage. I have written in the past on the need for us to think out of the box on the issue. I proposed then a European model to differentiate ‘legal marriage’ and ‘religious marriage’. Such a differentiation would allow all people to be legally married and allow each religion to choose who they ‘religiously marry’.
In standing by that view, I do not agree with Margaret Court’s view that marriage is between a man and a woman only. Why can’t a man marry a man, or a woman marry a woman?
While I will not defend Court’s view, I will defend her right to express her view. It is such a same that in expressing her view Court becomes the target of abuse and exceptional hypocrisy by those with whom she disagrees.
Many from the left of politics called Alan Jones and Tony Abbott ‘misogynists’ for allowing comments like ‘Ditch the Witch’ to be directed at Gillard. I agree, those comments are vulgar.
Imagine my surprise then, when I read Facebook and social media comments from left-of-politics friends describing Court as ‘pathetic’, ‘old witch’, a ‘stupid woman’ and an ‘old buzzard’.
If the right wing of politics had have described a left wing elderly religious leader this way, the left would screamed ‘misogyny!’ ‘Sexism!’ ‘Ageism!’
But what is good for the goose is not good for the gander from the left of politics.
Many people criticised Court for avoiding Qantas because Qantas supports Gay Marriage. Yet I am sure these same people would support a boycott of the US baker who does not support Gay Marriage (http://aclu-co.org/court-rules-bakery-illegally-discriminated-against-gay-couple/).
From the left of politics one can boycott a baker, but not an airline.
The most breathtaking hypocrisy came from a religious teacher of a well-respected central Victorian Catholic school, who called Margaret Court a ‘narrow-minded, homophobic, religious fundamentalist.’
Excuse me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the Catholic Church teach the same ‘narrow-minded, homophobic, religious’ view that Gay Marriage is wrong?
Could it be that this religious teacher takes money to instruct in his religious classes our children on Catholic views consistent with Court’s, while condemning that teaching in public Facebook posts?
When I called out his hypocrisy and defended Court’s right to express a view (with which I disagree), I was predictably labelled a ‘bully’, ‘thought police’ and best of all ‘a representative of the neo-Christian Taliban’!
Margaret Court’s views are based on a consistent and long-standing religious belief that she holds. Even though I disagree with her views, I respect her ability to hold and justify a point of principle in the face of adversity, even though I disagree with her principle.
Breathtaking hypocrisy like this is growing. It is a deep danger to our democracy when people cannot disagree with civility. Back is December last year a similar controversy arose when Stephanie Ross, a young liberal activist, cited her religious belief as the basis for her opposition to abortion – even in rape.
I disagree with Ross’s view but fought to defend her right to express it, in the face of incredibly personal and abusive vitriol coming, again, from the left. Apparently, according to the left, just because Ross then, like Court now, holds differing views, then her views are invalid, stupid, wrong and should be silenced by bullying.
In December 2016, I defended Ross in terms that can equally be applied to Court. I wrote on the New Daily pages:
“Since when is a deeply held religious belief not a reasonable basis to hold a view that has deep ethical and moral dilemmas? After all, religion has been the home of moral and ethical thinking since humanity first used a rock to crush a seed.
“In the middle of all of this low-quality debate, but high-quality name-calling, we see evidence of ‘echo chambers’ and self-reinforcing silos where political debate has been replaced by people loudly supporting other people with whom they already agree.
“To me, Ross (and now Court) isn’t someone to be condemned. Knowing the storm her opinion would create she should be congratulated for putting her view regardless.”
What does it say about our democracy if I am to be condemned as a ‘bully’, ‘thought police’ and ‘a representative of the neo-Christian Taliban’ all because I defend the right of someone to express a view with which I disagree?
What does it say about where we are heading as a community if we now silence, bully and beat up on views with which we disagree and loose our ability to engage in civil an open dialogue?
I admit that I am a tad hypocritical in this. There have been times when I too have lost my temper on social media and said things I regret. I am human and I am not perfect.
But as a society, we are are moving further from perfect not closer to it. Our intolerance of opposing views is growing to the level that our democracy is at risk. This is why bullying Court is worse than Court’s opposition to Gay Marriage.